Appeared before the Parliamentary committee on the #TPPA today

One of the cathartic things about leaving the public service is I do not have to be deferential to politicians anymore. I can treat them like ordinary people and tell them where to go when they annoy me. In consequence, I am not in any way nervous about appearing before a parliamentary committee.

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This Parliamentary committee was very unlike the last. Staying on after giving my submission was a pain rather than a learning experience.

A parade of conspiracy theories about the investor state dispute settlement process followed my testimony, which was first of the day. I left after about 45 minutes.

In my testimony, I got a standard question from David Clark, a Labour MP, about whether more time should be that given to make submissions because the complexities of the intellectual property chapter.

Kennedy Graham, the Green MP, then asked a bizarre question about how could New Zealand sign a trade agreement that would compromise environmental standards. His example was a trade agreement where it is agreed to start using coal as a power source again in New Zealand.

So weird with this question that I did not give the obvious answer which was this parade of horribles is so unlikely that it is not a serious question. What I did say was it is very unlikely New Zealand would ever sign such an agreement.

If a parade of horribles and weird hypotheticals is the best you can do, you do not have much of an argument against the TPPA.

@TrevorMallard what next for #TPPANoWay? Repeal CER?

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New Zealand filmmakers have used trade treaties to pry open access to foreign markets by challenging failures to honour promises of nondiscrimination in trade and investment in the Federal Court of Australia.

This should please the Twitter Left because they are also a film going left as are most members of the educated middle class as a point of identity and snobbery.

Back in the day, New Zealand television programming was sold cheaply into the Australian market. Many cultural and other products are exported into foreign markets and sold for whatever they can get above the price of shipping or digital transmission. What else explains all that rubbish on cable TV?

Under the Closer Economic Relations agreement that creates a single market between Australia and New Zealand, New Zealand made television programming content must be treated the same way as Australian content so it was included in their 50% local content rules for commercial television back from whenever I remember this story from.

There was a Federal Court of Australia case that ruled that New Zealand television programming was Australian content programming for the purposes of the relevant media regulations because of Closer Economic Relations.

From the late 1990s, with revival of the New Zealand film and television industry, New Zealand content was starting to flood the Australian market, especially in the off-season in the summer when stations were looking for cheap content to fill a low ratings period.

Naturally, this Kiwi invasion did not please the rent seeking Australian television programme production industry and many a mendicant actor, writer and producer

Where there is a will, where there is a way: minimum quality standards are introduced into the Australian content rules defined by price – a price that happen to be above what the television stations used to pay for New Zealand made programming in the off-season.

This court victory in favour of various New Zealand film industry in enforcing a trade and investment treaty puts the Twitter left in a bit of a conundrum. Which is more important? The New Zealand film industry or their hatred of globalisation and the rule of law.

TPP – Trojan Horse in a global race to the bottom

I can’t think of a single fact that this crank got right in this clip on the Trans-Pacific partnership agreement (TPPA).

Robert Reich, a Democratic party hack, referred to the TPPA as the biggest trade deal ever. He ignored a large number of multinational trade deals under the World Trade Organisation and the GATT such as the Uruguay round and the current Doha round.

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Reich claims the deal is negotiated in secret and later talks about its submission to the Congress for fast track.

Robert Reich claims that investor state dispute settlement allows challenges to any regulation and compensation for unfair reductions in profits. It is a far narrow criteria than that involving discrimination against foreigners.

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Currently, about 3000 international treaties give the ability to sue governments. Some 2700 of these are Bilateral Investment Treaties. The rest are trade treaties, including NAFTA. These treaties have spread rapidly around the world since the 1990s.

The TPP draft chapter says that the point of investment protection has long been “to encourage and promote the flow of investment…as a means to promote economic growth.”

At the same time, the TPP draft chapter specifically highlights “the inherent right to regulate…to protect legitimate public welfare objectives, such as public health, safety, the environment, the conservation of living or non-living exhaustible natural resources, and public morals.”

HT: People are freaking out about the Trans Pacific Partnership’s investor dispute settlement system. Why should you care? – The Washington Post.

econfix

Robert Reich talks about the Trans Pacific Partnership and its implications especially if it is signed. It would be the largest trade deal in history representing 792 million people and accounting for 40% of the world economy. Well worth a look.

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Jane Kelsey opposes handcuffs on the democratic choices of future governments! Does she oppose labour and environmental standards in trade agreements too?

Jane Kelsey in a television interview said she opposes the reductions in sovereignty in trade agreements that result from investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions because they limit the democratic choices of future governments.

If so, she must oppose environmental and labour standards in trade agreements and, more importantly, binding the hands of future governments with climate treaties. All international treaties are about restrictions on sovereignty.

Environmental and labour clauses in trade agreements and climate treaties all limit the powers of governments to legislate on environmental and employment law in accordance with the will of the people as expressed in the most recent election and change of government. Power to the people.

https://twitter.com/rorymccourt/status/625540621457960960

Jane Kelsey would do better focusing on those parts of the TPPA deal that lowers the net value of the deal such as those extending the term of patents over the drugs. All international treaties are about trade-offs.

The most important reason for focusing on intellectual property law in trade agreements is Kelsey is likely to actually win people over that are not on the far left, including many on the right of politics over to her cause. Kelsey is too busy rounding up the usual suspects.

Ranting about big corporate conspiracies and the investor state dispute settlement clauses puts people off.

These gusts of paranoia lose support on issues where there is common ground to be suspicious about the growing scope of trade agreements and their reach behind borders.

Regulatory harmonisation is advisable only when there are compelling reasons such as the prevention of hazards or technical compatibility of products – do the plugs fit into each other? As Sykes argues:

as a normative matter, harmonization is inferior to a legal system that tolerates regulatory differences subject to legal constraints, and that relies on mutual recognition where appropriate (the exception to this claim being matters of technical compatibility between products).

Related, as a positive manner, harmonization will often lack any political constituency and thus instances of true harmonization will be rare.

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